Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One More Farewell

It's been a month of goodbyes. We have one last one for April.

...and for good measure, she sprayed some "Forever Spray" as well.

Annie's Family Dedication

Last Sunday we were able to participate in a family dedication ceremony for Annie. One of the end results was writing a family mission statement. This was a really big day for our family, and we're so grateful for our church staff that bent over backwards for this to happen.

With Brian Abbott - pastor to young adults and families

family photo and mission statement

With Don and Mary Ann Enns - she has been my mentor and dear friend since I moved to Nebraska

with Mark Brunott - head pastor

With Dan's parents - my parents were unable to make it

With Julie Florom - children's ministries and parenting class director

Easter - Part 2

Dayna did a great job talking Annie through the Resurrection Eggs

Easter - part 1

It was our second Easter with Annie, but our first Easter home. It was wonderful that her first Easter service was in China. But somehow, I have felt off-kilter for a year. Since we were gone last year for Easter, I would find myself looking to put Easter decorations out in October. My equilibrium was off for an entire year - and I was excited to set things right again!

It's always wonderful to celebrate Christ's resurrection. The candy and fancy dresses and egg hunts are fun - but there's something about getting up at the crack of dawn to tell your family "He is Risen!"

And that's what we do around here! We get up before dawn and visit our local state park. They have a very tall tower overlooking the Platte River. We climb those steps in the predawn, wrap up in blankets, and read the Easter story from the Bible as we watch the sun rise.

Enjoy some pictures from our family's early-morning Easter celebration.


Grief has hit our community once again. In the last 20 months, we've lost a beloved police officer in a motorcycle accident, a 6-year-old boy to a heart attack, a 19-year-old boy to a "legal" drug, the fathers of 2 third-graders, and just recently a 9-year-old boy in a farming accident. 5 of the 6 have been minors or parents of young children. 3 of those have happened in the last 2 months and directly affected the third graders.

We're a small town. It seems we no sooner process one tragedy when another one hits.

Grant was Dayna's first friend in Ashland. When they were about 3 years old, his parents bought the house next door to us. They spent months renovating and flipping the house. While there, the two kids would often play on their tricycles, or Grant's Big Wheel, or they'd kick a ball around the front yard. They shared the same Kindergarten class, and in this small town, their paths have crossed frequently. One of my favorite memories is of Grant riding his bike home from school with rubber boots that looked like ducks, shorts, and a batman cape. The kid was full of life and spunk, and you couldn't help but smile when you saw him around.

The afternoon before Easter, he was tragically killed on property his family owns. The driver of the bobcat was their tenant, and I presume a friend of the family. His mother was there and tried to administer CPR. Rescue squads from at least half a dozen communities (including a rescue helicopter) were all on the scene, but none were able to save him.

I got the news late that night. We waited to tell Dayna so she could enjoy Easter services at church. But it nearly broke my heart to tell her her friend was gone.

The rest of that week was so incredibly hard. Dayna has not attended any funerals since she was quite small. With much prayer and discernment, we felt it was not only necessary for her to attend his funeral, but she needed to go to the visitation to tell Grant goodbye. What a difficult night. We're trying to help Dayna replace the sad images with happy memories of Grant. (We hear an awful lot of stories about lunchroom antics at school!) And she really is doing okay - despite a deep-seated sadness.

The joy of a small town is that Grant's family is not grieving alone. His favorite colors were hot pink and safety orange. Many school children came to his funeral bedecked in those bright colors. Around town, people have tied pink and orange ribbons around their trees, mailboxes, lampposts, etc. Dayna even went around our neighborhood and tied ribbon to the neighbor's trees! There was a candlelight vigil the night before the funeral on the block in front of Grant's house. Hundreds of people came. It was windy and rainy - the candles wouldn't stay lit...and then someone started singing "Amazing Grace." For 4 verses, the candles held their flame and burned bravely and brightly. And when the song ended, the candles started to go out again.

We really don't know what is in store next for this community. 2 days after Grant's funeral was a benefit for one of the men who died in February. Many people were wearing orange and pink. This community lives together, loves together, celebrates together, and grieves together. I just hope we can have a break from the grief for awhile. Our hearts can't take much more.

We miss you, Grant!

If You Wouldn't Say it...

In a world full of blog posts about what not to say to adoptive parents, I found this video incredibly funny.

Going Mama Bear

I recently read in a forum a concern from an adoptive parent. Her daughter came home from school with a report of a disturbing story from her teacher. I was taken aback by the instant barrage of comments from other adoptive parents demanding the mother get an audience with the principal, superintendent, school board, etc. Several were calling for the teacher's instant dismissal. Very few of the responses were urging the parent to talk directly to the teacher and discover more.

It made me think about how often I "go Mama Bear" over my kids. I really try not to - I try to see other sides of a story. I try to discern when to fight and when to step back and see how the chips fall. It seems the adoption community champions fighting for their kids. I see where that comes from - but sometimes I wonder if we might be crippling our kids emotionally when we're so quick to blame everything on adoption and demand the world caters to our kids.

Since reading this "discussion" (where the mother did talk to the teacher, and the story was not exactly as her child had reported it - in fact, it turned into a non-issue) - I've really tried to step back and gauge my responses. I won't always be there to fight for my kids. It's my job to equip them to know when to fight for themselves and when to accept that life isn't always fair or turn out the way we want. And I'm finding that when Mama Bear steps back for a little bit and gets all of the facts - I'm usually just a big teddy bear inside who wants nothing more than to just enjoy a few extra snuggles and hugs with my kids.

Somebody remind me of this next time I go Mama Bear.

Panic and Poison Control

I have one daughter who learned at an early age "we don't touch medicine" and another who thinks to herself "bring it on!"

So guess which child managed to get past a child-proof cap and down about half a bottle of cold medicine?

This would be while I was processing the news about my aunt's death - and juggling phone calls to my neighbor who is a pharmacist, my husband, our pediatrician, and poison control.

Fortunately, the amount taken was under the "dangerous" level. She was zinging around the house for about an hour before completely crashing. She probably had the best night of sleep ever - meanwhile, the two adults in the house didn't sleep much at all as we were on hyper alert listening for any changes in her breathing patterns.

She's no worse for the wear - but our nerves are certainly a little more frazzled now.

Friends and Neighbors

We met some incredible new neighbors last spring. The kind who are down-to-earth, funny, unpretentious, iron-sharpening-iron, solid in their faith, our kids adore each other, drop off random cupcakes/bread/coffee cake/whatever suits our fancy, stop and have a cup of afternoon tea together, "can you pick up my kid after school" type of neighbors. I can't say enough wonderful things about them. In the short time I've known them, I've become a better person - and I can say the same about the rest of my family.

Last month, they received some rather startling news. I can see in the long run how it's actually a really good thing. But the result is that they're moving to North Carolina next month. That ripped my heart out to type just now. Just when we started developing a great relationship and picturing the next several years of our girls growing up together - they're leaving.

I'm so insanely happy for them and this opportunity. But is it okay for me to act a little petulant and pout for awhile? I hate saying goodbye.

I just wonder who God will put in our path next - and pray we can be the kind of neighbor to the next family that they've been to us.

Making Sense

I had an unusual Monday a few weeks back. I'm still trying to make sense of it and find hidden meanings - but I just don't think I can.

I got home from school and had a card from my aunt. I don't hear from her often. A sporadic Christmas card or message on my answering machine. In her card, she wrote about how much she loves me and enclosed a picture of palm trees, because she remembers how much I love them. (I'm wondering if when I was little on one of our trips to Southern California I commented on the palm trees, because we certainly didn't have them in Oregon!) It seemed like such a random card at the time.

While I was reading it, Dan told me I needed to call my dad. When I got him on the phone, he told me that my aunt had died over the weekend. I was sitting reading a card from her while I was being told that she was gone.

I'm still trying to figure out what the timing of events means. I know that it's been a rough couple of weeks for my parents - especially my dad. He lost his brother 5 years ago to leukemia at a young age - and now his little sister is gone as well. His parents have been gone since I was little.

One thing I love about my dad is his integrity and character in hard times. He was able to share his uncompromising faith at my aunt's funeral. He and my mom arranged for copies of Randy Alcorn's short book about Heaven to hand out at the funeral. 100 copies were gone before they knew it!

I continue to pray for my uncle and cousins. They have quite a road ahead of them as they navigate life without their wife/mom/grandma. Please join me in praying for their peace, comfort and faith.